I was surprised yesterday when the PM called me into his office, something he rarely does these days as he is so pre-occupied with getting Covid done. He was looking tired, pale and overweight. This is how the conversation went:
PM: I’ve called you in to discuss two things. (Massaging his head.)
JB: Yes, Prime Minister.
PM: This blasted Covid is costing the Treasury a fortune. Ergo, we need cash. Fast. What are you working on at the moment that will bring in several million?
JB: I think I’ve got a customer for all the European Embassy buildings in London, and -
PM: Excellent! Excellent! And?
JB: And Cambridge University.
PM: Good God! Who wants it?
JB: A Chinese firm, big in education.
PM: Good! Very good! Send the details to the Chancellor. Now. The second thing I want to talk to you about is something that is not really your field of expertise, but I judge you could do it.
PM: Don’t interrupt. And this conversation is strictly between you and me only. Do you understand?
JB: Certainly, Prime Minister.
PM: I’m fed up with always getting so much negative publicity. Even in the Tory papers. What the hell do they think they’re there for? So I’ve decided to try a new approach. I think a new approach is needed, don’t you?
JB: It’s certainly the case that there’s a lot of negative comment about...
PM: Quite. So I need some PR that is up-beat, optimistic, encouraging, convincing. Business-like and buzz-wordy in tone. Something to get the voters thinking all is well. And I think you’re the man for the job. To write it.
PM: Yes. You. If you’re capable of negotiating with all those foreign johnnies, then I judge you must be capable of writing pushy stuff. So. By next Friday, I’ll expect a first rate PR release from you. On how we’re getting our great nation back on track, and stiffing the EU. Next Friday.
JB: Yes, Prime Minister.
So this is my draft of a new-style speech for the Prime Minister:
I want to speak to you today about a paradigm shift your government is pursuing to shape our great nation’s future.
Britain is a world-leader in many things. To name a few, munitions production, data protection, pandemic control, child-care and so on.
But that’s not enough! What I want to do is to engage the human capital of our great nation – that’s you, the voters – in bringing fresh ideas to the table. So we are reaching out to every one of you, to ask that you drill down and come up with outcome-focussed models for our future. I, and my Cabinet, will welcome your views on how we can shape our future now that we are free of the EU’s constraints And can go out into the world a super-competent and independent, free-trading and freedom-embracing country.
We will no longer be squeezed or sand-bagged into acquiescing to anyone else’s agenda. We have reclaimed our sovereignty and a brighter future awaits us as we forge our own path.
That’s why we need your views! Of course, my Cabinet, your representatives, might not be able to accept everything some of the voters want but, together, we can organise ourselves, with your invaluable help, to deliver, flexibly of course, the best objectives for our beloved country.
Watch out for the e-mail coming to you from Number 10! Thank you all.